Cambrian News photographer - Aberystwyth students marched in support of the strikes

A PENSIONS row has escalated after union members rejected a deal that would have seen the end of strike action at Aberystwyth University – leading to fears that students’ important end-of-year exams could be affected.

The Cambrian News reported “Lecturers at Aberystwyth and at 60 other institutions across the UK have been taking industrial action for the past two weeks in a row over changes to pensions which the UCU union said would cost members up to £10,000 a year.

Universities UK (UUK), the umbrella organisation negotiating a deal over planned changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme, wants to change the USS from a defined benefit scheme that gives a guaranteed retirement income to a defined contribution scheme where pension income is subject to stock market fluctuations.

Around half of Aberystwyth’s 407 UCU members have taken to the picket lines after talks between the union and UUK broke down.

On Tuesday, a negotiated deal between the UCU and UUK that would see the changes postponed until 2020 and bring an end to the strike action was rejected by union members and staff were back on the picket lines in greater numbers on Wednesday morning.

The widespread disruption has led to cancelled lectures, with the UCU not ruling out extending the strike into the key revision and end-of-year exam period later this year.

Students at Aberystwyth, who have widely backed the stance taken by lecturers over the row, staged a march on Wednesday and a protest outside the office of Aberystwyth University vice-chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure.

Over 100 students joined the march from the Hugh Owen Library to the Old College in support of striking staff.

Aberystwyth University said it is doing all it can to “minimise disruption” during the strike action” here.

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